(above) Bolivia's President Evo Morales (right) talks with the Charge d'Affaires of the United States, Peter Brennan, during a meeting at the presidential palace in La Paz. Photograph: Handout/Reuters


Bolivia's president Morales says he wants to improve ties with US


Leftist leader expresses determination for his country to restore good relations with US during briefing at presidential palace

Agence France-Presse
Bolivia is set to try to rebuild ties with the United States and exchange ambassadors again, President Evo Morales said Tuesday, citing Washington's warmer Iran and Cuba stances.

"We are here today to get back on course to good relations with the United States," Morales told a briefing at the presidential palace, ahead of US Secretary of State John Kerry's historic visit to Havana on Friday.

The leftist leader, a key ally of Communist-led Cuba and socialist Venezuela, said the top US diplomat in Bolivia, business attache Peter Brennan, had been informed about the country's wish to work with him on restoring normal ambassadorial-level ties.

"I cannot say when this may happen, but hopefully, we will be able to achieve it," Brennan added.

The US and Bolivia have not had ambassadors in their respective capitals since 2008.

Morales threw out the last US ambassador in 2008 accusing him of allegedly plotting with local conservative opposition seeking to oust him. The US reciprocated.

Since then, the diplomatic outlook has improved, Morales said.

In December, US president Barack Obama and Cuban president Raúl Castro made a surprise announcement to seek normal diplomatic relations after more than 50-year break in relations. Kerry is due in Havana for a ceremony to raise the US flag at its reopened embassy, a first since January 1961.

"Before the United States used to tell us not to have relations with Cuba and Iran. Now, the United States has good relations with Cuba and with Iran, a surprise (deal)," said Morales.

"So we can't be sitting on the sidelines in an international context," he said.